Studio

Hitting the spot!

Here in Santa Cruz there is a bluff overlooking the Seabright beach with the Harbor lighthouse to the left and the Wharf to the right, we call it "The Spot" coined by my GF Gayle who also loves to shoot video on her iPhone while I play.  She has always managed to capture great moments in HD.  At sunset you can see the sailboats, dolphins, seals otters and people all enjoying the end of the day.  Its a great place to hang out play guitar and share music at the end of the day.  Sometimes I bring the GS Mini and small Roland Amp for ambience and looping. Great sound and great fun!

Photo by Gayle McCabe

Photo by Gayle McCabe

2013 - Its already a great year!

One of the great things about a new year is you get to start over - do things better and stay on your path...  This holiday season, I was down in Mexico camping on the Sea of Cortez with a group of friends. We have traveled and camped before so it was awesome to spend the time together and ring in the new year around the camp fire.

Chris Marzonie Posted a cool late night campfire video here >>

I had a captivated audience so I was able to play acoustic through a small Roland battery powered amp and the looper. It was a ton of fun to jam and play all week long - no phones no internet  - just talking, hiking and playing... 

Check out more images here >>

Digging into covers

I'v always had a few cover tunes in the quiver - lately, I have been revisiting covers with new interest. With many years of great tunes its not hard to find great ones to play live. 

Neil Young, Beatles, Greg Lake, The Church, Pink Floyd to name a handful... 

Many of the artist no longer tour, so its fun to play these along with a few other musicians,  the tunes come alive and  we make them our own.

Find us out live around Santa Cruz and Sedona/Prescott Arizona...

Seaweed Peace sign - Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz CA

Creating, Looping and finding good chords

Spending time lately with a small Roland AC-33 and RC-50 looper.  Finding chords jamming over the top- working out ideas. Its fast and fun...

Very little set up time - just plug and play.  Sometimes its the simple things that make it all work!

Places like this are the images of songs...

Greg Lake - Live! Songs of a Lifetime

Greg Lake (from Emerson Lake & Palmer)  -one of my early heros and the single most person who really inspired me to play guitar every day, was in San Fransisco at the Regency Ballroom - a fun historic venue.

Its been a while - I used to see Greg lake regularly back in the day - you might even say I was addicted to ELP and Greg's way of creating music...   

WOW what a great show - Greg started the show with the intense 21st century scitzoidman - and closed the show with "Welcome back my frineds", and played everythign in between.  His voice was smooth and poweful and sounded fantastic as did his backing tracks and guitar tones.  I had a great balcony seat right over stage right. He played and taled with the audiance for 3 hours - breaking the show with Q&A which was very informativ and intimate.

More....   and a bit about the show:

Greg Lake's autobiography Lucky Man is out and he has taken the show on the road.  Writing the book, Lucky Man, gave birth to the show, but the show is not the book. Fans have sparked to the intimate, autobiographical Songs of a Lifetime experience as each audience takes a different journey with Greg Lake every night to standing ovations. Lucky Man is the autobiography you have been waiting for. Read by the author, here are the tales of his extraordinary life of song and music and the people who inspired Greg.

Jams from the past

Every once and a while I find recordings on various storage drives - sometimes they suck really bad and sometimes there is a vibe about them that makes me think I should revist the tunes and buff them up with a new recording.

Here are a few from the '90's:

Pasquale on the bluff jamming - Image Cira 1990 

Zappa Plays Zappa 2/12 Rio Theatre - Santa Cruz, CA

After seeing ZpZ play last year and really enjoying how well Dweezil played I new I had to go again this year... What a killer show!  They played a completely different set than last year and dug deep into the FZ archives to bring many unheard songs to life. Dweezil can shred and play with accuracy while all of the band members hold their own. We had great seats in the second row center slight stage left - the balance of both guitars (Dweezil and Jamie Kime) was fantastic. And Jamie is no slacker on guitar he plays without a pick and smoked many great solos, while Scott Thunes layed down solid bass.   ...ZpZ site

THE PLAYERS:

Dweezil Zappa: Guitar
Scheila Gonzalez: Saxphone, Flute, Keyboards & Vocals
Scott Thunes: Bass
Billy Hulting: Marimba, Mallets & Percussion
Jamie Kime: Guitar
Joe Travers: Drums & Vocals
Ben Thomas: Vocals
Chris Norton: Keyboards

After taking more than three years off to study the physical performance and technical compositional techniques of his father, Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa began his search to create a combo that could, according to Dweezil, "accurately execute Frank's music in the most authentic way humanly possible."

Dweezil's focus was on providing an avenue for the elder Zappa's music to new generations of listeners. To that end, he personally selected members of the Zappa Plays Zappa septet after an arduous set of auditions. The process typically involved them having to transcribe assorted Zappa pieces and then play their specific parts while accompanied only by Joe Travers (drums) -- the latter having previously worked with Dweezil in his and brother Ahmet Zappa's Z. Travers is also the Zappa Family Trust archivist, which likewise meant he would be intimately familiar with the various distinct eras of Frank's music. 

Set list:

  1. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  2. Plastic People 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  3. Hungry Freaks, Daddy 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  4. Bow Tie Daddy 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  5. Motherly Love 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  6. Dirty Love 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  7. Any Kind of Pain 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  8. Blessed Relief 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  9. Mother People 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  10. Debra Kadabra 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  11. Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  12. Advance Romance 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  13. Wedding Dress Song / Handsome Cabin Boy 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  14. Trouble Every Day 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  15. Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  16. Eat That Question 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  17. Who Are The Brain Police? 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  18. Ride My Face to Chicago 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  19. Son of Mr. Green Genes 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  20. Encore:
  21. Dancin' Fool 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  22. Willie the Pimp 
    (Frank Zappa cover) 
  23. Whipping Post 
    (The Allman Brothers Band cover)

Godin Guitar and the Roland Vg-99

The idea of using a guitar for more than just a guitar has always been my quest. I recently ditched the PRS and GK3 for the Godin LGXT  - it comes synth access and 13 pin ready.  A perfect fit for the Vg-99.

Godin:

I recently sent the Godin back out for a tune up and adjutsment to have it fit my playing style  Due to its newness, the Godin  is stil requiring adjustments and will keep at it until it sets in and wil hold intonation and feel good to play.

Roland VG-99

The guitar modeling is amazing as well as the lush effects, and synthy goodness!

I've been going into the editor and setting up great tones, with categories, acoustic, electric., synth, etc. Along with various alternative tunings, switching on the fly and eq. I have it set up with many different string tunings which make for easy switching back and forth into wild tunings instantly.

 ** Listen for it on the coming recordings...

How I get out and beyond the power lines - Toyota Land Cruiser

My facination with Landcruisers started when I was 22 years old and living at that time in Milford Pennsylvania. I was building a recording studio for Ed labunski a very prolific and famous jingle writer (Google him.)  Driving in the snow out in the woods beyond the powerlines, camping, hiking and playing music around the fire... 

My first Landcruiser was a new 1979 green 40 series that was a fun time with a then unknown vehicle. Fast forward to 5 landcruisers later and the 1997 80 series... Like a line from a Robbie Roberston tune  "It's in my blood"

Looking forward to the next Landcruiser... 

Holy Zoo - The Desert (1993) from the album, Harvin Garvel 2

From the incredible expanding Holy Zoo comes a bit of killer no filler early work...

Who the fuck are they?

Holy Zoo is a digital video and music production company located in the San Francisco Bay Area, founded by Steev Dinkins, born from a group of musicians and prolific artists. Holy Zoo creates motion picture and musical works, fusing visual instincts with musical creativity.

Steev Dinkins
Music producer, digital video producer, guitarist, electronic musician, and media guru

Kenny Pardo
Digital video director, drummer, and actor

Scott Chavez
Musical architect, bass player, guitar player, painter, poet, set designer, and comic genius

How do I get more?

See much more and watch the Holy Zoo Channel

Find thier new record Holy Zoo Faire on itunes now

For more music and info email: shoutout@holyzoo.com

Jamming Solo in the Desert - at Swansea Arizona

I had the chance to meet friends at the annual FZB (Feuerzangenbowle) celebration. The group has been meeting in the desert for the past ten years. This year it was held at Swansea, AZ - now a ghost town. It was a copper mining camp back in 1907 - the BLM has taken good care of the area and set up camping locations. The views were impressive at sunset. We had the chance to hike to the top of the highest peak ( Clares peak)  what a view!  It was F'n cold at night - really cold... Everyone hung out around the campfire at night until they were tired. There were a select few of us who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, watching the moon rise above the mountains, marveling at the open sky and a million stars, sharing stories and laughing, music and yeah drinks!

This video is from one of the nights, when our host cooked up the (FZB) flaming drink - that warmed everyone on this cold desert night.  I played the Taylor guitar along with a Roland battery power amp and looper. I jammed well into the morning hours. This video was shot hand held by my good friend Chris Marzonie, with his Canon 7D camera. See more of Chris's fantastic photography here - www.chrismarzonie.com

Enjoy this unedited - shot from the hip - awesome cool video...    Thanks Chris!

Logic Pro = Creating new music

After a year of jamming on open tunings and working out new chord structures and patterns, I am firing up Logic Pro and getting busy recording tracks.  I am going to start backwards and lay down acoustic guitar parts first, then work on percussion, drumming and keyboard tracks. Then if I need to, re-record the basic guitar parts if they don't sound strong enough.  I sometime like to work this way as its more creative and less technology and more creative. Compared to many of the other music creation apps out there, Logic Pro is very intuitive and fun to work with.

Who needs a plan when creating music - right?

I also have many past tracks and audio samples from previous work that occasionally I like to slip into the process. On set pf tracks in particular was something recorded 12 years ago in my past stuido "Mister E"  The tracks were recorded by my Friend and music/tech genius Steev Dinkins at HolyZoo he was working on tracks with his drummer KennyPardo and I asked to sit in with my 12 string and see what happens. Kenny was amazing and put down some awesome trakcs.  12 years later I found those hidden files, listened and thought? "Hey this is good stuff..."

... Yeah, time to create new music.

The Road between here and there

I have always had wanderlust... from an early age of 12, when I hitchhiked to my first concert festival in Watkins Glen NY and saw many really famous superstars from that era. Since then I have always traveled from here to there and back again. The backroads are the most interesting, this is where you will find everything from Americana  Diners,  Retro Kitsch,  small towns and ghost towns - to the Coconut Man (more on him in future blogs)   

My road trip back from Sedona was filled with highway obstacles, back roads, desert sunsets and camping by the Colorado River at the border where Arizona meets California.  

Everything comes together when that fat old sun sets into the west and night time arrives. As the camp fire light and smell of the river moving by, make for a superb backdrop for endless solo guitar playing, writing and working out new material.

...I have always had wanderlust.

Barn Concert - Fred Eaglesmith

How could it get any better than an intimate setting for live music than someone's living room, back yard or barn...  I've been lucky enough to be invited to a few of these shows and its a great time. You are in a very small venue, in this case a "vintage barn" in a low key setting, with a bunch of friends. 

I have not seen Fred Eaglesmith or new of his music, so I got on pandora and spent the week before listening to several of his songs. His music didn't really resonate with me, (mostly due to it being with a full band) until I saw him perform live in this barn. He is a excellent, insightful songwriter and a very funny storyteller. The show was about two hours long and involved people in audience responding to his stories. He has a large collection of original music that speaks of real life experiences, life on the road, and relationships. I really enjoyed his Americana guitar tone and live sound. If you have the chance stop in a see Fred...

Live music

Going to see live music is still a happening thing to do in the bigger cites and some smaller towns. As a matter of fact, possibly even more than ever. The smaller venue stages are promoting many of the once larger touring bands.  This makes it a great time to see live music in your town.

We're heading up to the Uptown Theater in Napa, CA to see Joe Satriani's new band and hear them play the new album, "Black Swans and Worm Hole Wizards."  Joe has been feeding his fans with Podcasts of the songs and video of the recording process at Skywalker Sound in Marin County Ca. 

 

I've watched Joe Satriani for many years and been to a handful of his shows throughout the years. The one thing about Joe is - he enjoys playing, is a consummate showman, great guitarist, and he never disappoints the crowd.

After watching the podcasts I have no doubt that this will be an amazing show!

Killer Guitar Tunings

I have always challenged my playing and my mind with different tunings on the acoustic guitar as early as I can remember. I started with a 12 string way back, it was a Yamaha acoustic. I was always amazed at the sounds I could produce - yeah a bitch to keep in tune, but still fun and loose.

Baby Taylor in Death Valley National Park

I rewed my interest in the open tuning and have my Taylor 6 string tuned in DADGAD tuning.  Been spending time creating new chords and sounds for a new album coming up. I have also got into learning Sligo Creek by Al Petteway - damn what a cool tune!  

It is also the soundtrack to Ken Burns National Park Series and where I first heard the song.  The chords were hauntingly familiar and its because I have played many of those chords so many moons ago when I was experimenting.